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Climate Change

New York Post takes on climate change–not

Thousands of New Yorkers received free copies of a special edition of the New York Post this morning dedicated to the dangers of climate change and the need for robust international action to combat it.  For the unawares, the New York Post is a Murdoch owned-tabloid that tends to scew on the “climate change is myth” side of the spectrum, so I was mighty shocked to see an entire issue dedicated to climate change ahead of the UN climate summit tomorrow. 

The only problem, though, is that it was a spoof.  The Yes Men are responsible. 

 

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Civil Disobedience

About a year ago, Al Gore urged citizens to take direct action and called for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal-fired power plants. 

It seems that a group of activists in West Virginia are taking this call to heart. Via ItsGettingHotinHere, activists from the group ClimateGroundZero are staging a blockade at the headquarters of coal giant the Massey Energy Company. Four activists, ranging in age from 22 to 81 are blocking the road to Massey Energy headquarters to protest the companies practice of Mountain Top Removal mining, a particularly vile method of mining.  

Daryl Hannah and Climate scientist James Hansen were arrested in a similar protest in West Virginia earlier this summer. 

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Brothers Miliband take the climate show on the road

UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband and his brother, Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband are sounding the alarm that a climate deal in Copenhagen in December may fall apart unless countries get their act together. 

David Miliband told reporters in London that the complexity of negotiations and disputes between industrialized and developing nations over cuts to emissions threaten to scupper a deal.

“The deal the world needs in Copenhagen is now in the balance,” he said. “There’s a real danger the talks scheduled for December will not reach a positive outcome, and an equal danger in the run-up to Copenhagen that people don’t wake up to the danger of failure until it’s too late.”

Here is David Miliband explaining some of the international security risks of unabated global warming.

 

That’s his brother to the left. The two are taking this presentation to a number of European cities this week and are in the midst of a big media push. All the power to them.

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A snapshot of the Climate landscape in two articles

Reading the NY Times this morning after the long weekend, I was immediately struck by two stories that seem to encapsulate the lay of the land in the lead up to the climate negotiations in Copenhagen. Spoiler alert: the message will be that we need to get in gear. But I’m going to keep driving that home.

First story, Yukio Hatoyama, the presumptive PM of Japan, according to the NY Times headline, has repeated his campaign pledge to cut emissions from 1990 levels by 25 percent in the next decade, a major commitment given the lack of action by others.  One small caveat, it’s contingent on commitments from other major polluters — less than completely helpful.  Nevertheless, you have to respect his flying in the face of a government report that said such a reduction could lead to the loss of 90 million jobs in Japan at a time when it’s suffering through a tough recession.

Now let’s leave the land of conditional commitments and climate politics where the argument is largely academic at this point and start getting real.  Second story, with a crushing headline: “Lush Land Dries Up, Withering Kenya’s Hopes.” I imagine you can imagine where this is going.  A wrath-of-God-level drought is sweeping Kenya, “killing livestock, crops, and children.” WFP has said that 4 million need food and that “red lights are flashing across the country.”  This is wrecking the two main industries in Kenya, agriculture and tourism — big game is “keeling over from hunger” — which, of course, inflames an already fragile political situation.  This article goes into greater detail about the devastation and makes a more explicit connection to climate change, but I think you get the picture.

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The political imperative of Copenhagen

The British embassy here in Washington is soliciting opinions on why action must be taken to curb climate change.  The project is called 100 voices in 100 days, and in the months leading up to international climate change negotiations in Copenhagen the British foreign office is highlighting these opinions on their blog.  

Here’s my take, shot on location in Dupont Circle.

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Grab a paintbrush and geo-engineer

In addition to planting fake plastic trees, another simple “geo-engineering” measure, suggests Brad Plumer (via Yglesias), is to “paint all our roofs white, reflecting more of the sun’s heat and cooling the Earth.”

This obviously makes sense, and along with other standard home modification measures (solar panels, high-efficiency lighting, etc.), as well as some that are probably more instinctively unpopular — the fetish of having a perfectly green lawn (and not in the environmental sense) is not lying to die out soon — painting roofs while is indeed a “total no-brainer” in terms of reducing our environmental impact. The problem, as Matt recognizes, is that the farther that the geo-engineering scale tips toward the drastic (or the ridiculous), the less vigorously politicians feel compelled to push for costly reductions in carbon emissions.

The point of trying to reclaim the term “geo-engineering” from the province of futuristic tubes pumping sulfur dioxide into the air does seem worthwhile. If it’s about painting houses, everyone can be a “geo-engineer,” and maybe we won’t have to worry as much about those rogue environmentalist billionaires.

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